After Months Of Pressure, Casper Ruud To Play Free In Turin Debut | ATP Tour

Casper Ruud believes that he has earned respect from his fellow players this year, after winning a career-best five ATP Tour titles and qualifying for the Nitto ATP Finals.

“This year has been a big step for me, I’ve got more comfortable on the big stage,” said Ruud in Turin. “This is one of the biggest stages on the ATP Tour. I feel more comfortable in this situation than before. I got to practise on centre court yesterday [at the Pala Alpitour]. The court feels good and I’m looking forward to Monday. I’m happy with the group I am in.

“I think the biggest change for me is my self-confidence and belief that I can play at this level is much higher. I am a guy that hasn’t played as much on the biggest stage. I’ve had a taste of it, but I’ve worked my way up slowly and steady. I hope players respect me a little more now than a year or two ago.

“I think players chase that status, that players fear you. If you play Novak [Djokovic] or Rafa [Nadal] on clay, everyone knows it will be tough and you have to play your best game ever over three hours. If I can achieve a small percentage of that feeling I will be happy.”

The Norwegian, who has qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals for the first time, features in the Green Group alongside Novak Djokovic, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev.

World No. 1 Djokovic praised Ruud on Friday’s media day, saying, “Casper is one of the hardest working players on the Tour. He absolutely deserves to be here, qualifying for his first [Nitto] ATP Finals. He has had an impressive year and won a lot of titles. He has improved a lot on hard courts, which is not his preferred surface. The way he moves, hits the balls and positioning on court is different as well. It’s all down to his work ethic and dedication to the sport.”

Ruud will play five-time former Nitto ATP Finals champion Djokovic on Monday afternoon at the Pala Alpitour in Turin.

“It feels exciting [as he is] the toughest player to play in the world,” said Ruud. “He knows the routine and has won the event many times. He almost won four majors this year, and there was only one player that stopped him. I did watch the US Open final, so I may ask Daniil how he beat him! Novak is a complete player with pretty much no weaknesses. I will try and enjoy the moment, but I know it’s a tough task ahead on Monday.”

Ruud, who has a 53-15 record in a career-best season, also admitted that keeping tabs on his rivals in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin over the past few months had been stressful. So playing on Monday will be a relief.

“There were a lot of nerves involved, and pressure,” said Ruud. “It’s my debut [in Turin], and I’d like to play at this event again, but for now I will enjoy the moment. I want to play my next three matches without pressure, because the last few months there has been almost too much pressure!”

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